This is Queen and her pet rat Tom. I was driving down a road on thy other side of the river and I saw this group of kids walking towards the Horse Club it was a sunny afternoon in the late rainy season here in Omaruru, warm but not crazy hot and wonderful puffy clouds in the Eastern sky. As I drove by this group of kids lost in my own Sunday daydreams it registered moments after I had passed, that the tallest of the kids had a rat on her head…..
Consider that for a moment, young lanky African girl walking in the sun, on a dirt road, at the edge of the map, leading her posse with a white rat on her head…..
I couldn’t believe what I had seen and forced myself to turnaround and confirm that it wasn’t a flash back, an echo of a different kind of sunshine. As I pulled up next to them I’ll be dipped, the young lady was indeed sporting a rat on her head…This was too good to pass up. Turns out she is the daughter of a man whom I also photographed a few years ago, this is that image, called ‘buy-a-donkey’ it’s only really amusing if you speak Afrikaans and that’s for another day.
Over the next couple of weeks I had the opportunity to spend more time with Queen, I’ve learned that she goes to the best elementary school here in Omaruru, where she is a gifted student, that she is a devout Catholic who is seriously considering becoming a nun, a rarity in these dark days. Tom was given to Queen by a friend of hers that moved away 5 years ago, making Tom a very old and wise rat. Tom and Queen are very close, there were many times when I was watching them that Tom would settle in and close his eyes, content with where he has ended up. His age is visible in close-up; I was moved by his timeless countenance, he looks like he could be a character in a Spielberg movie, there were times when I expected him to open his eyes, fix me with his gaze and tell me to piss off…..
I hope you enjoy this portrait and the quiet little story behind it…..